When Naomi Campbell gives you modeling advice, you best listen. Shortly after accepting the CFDA Fashion Icon award, conquering the catwalk at the Dolce & Gabbana menswear and Alta Moda shows, and heading to the south of France for the Cannes Lions festival where she spoke on the need for inclusion, the jet-setting supermodel took part in day one of the 2018 Ozy Fest in New York City. During her appearance, the British icon offered advice to up-and-coming models looking to break it in the fashion industry. And who better to glean modeling tips from than the legend herself, who is still as relevant as ever since making her modeling debut at the age of 15?
The iconic supermodel, who hinted at retirement in an interview while promoting her Fashion For Relief show in Cannes in May (“I don’t know if I can walk much longer, it’s been 32 years”), sat down with Ally Banks’ Andrea Brimmer to acknowledge the increasing diversity in the fashion industry. For the occasion, she kept things simple in a white shirt dress and metallic gladiator sandals. “The world has become more united than ever before,” said Campbell during the panel discussion.
But things took a turn when she was asked what models of color should do to ensure equal opportunities in the fashion industry. Campbell responded “I think you have to call it out, and now we have the platforms where we can. You have to be vigilant, you have to keep pushing. Sometimes they do it and then they pause… then it goes one step back and then two steps forward…. If you keep on, things will make progress and the clouds will go away and you inevitably get what you want,” she added, speaking from personal experience.
Campbell went on to recall an instance when her and supermodel Iman Abdulmajid had to personally take a stand against discrimination in the industry. “Iman and myself, we wrote letters to the designers. Some of them didn’t understand it right away. They thought we were coming to attack… It wasn’t an attack. We just wanted to remind [them] that when choosing [their] casting, to do it with an open and diverse mind.” Campbell and Abdulmajid are both known for helping open doors for black models in the industry, with the latter becoming the first black model to refuse to work for a lower wage than other girls.
Campbell isn’t afraid to speak her mind when it comes to inclusion, often using her platform to call out inequality when she sees it. Just recently, the supermodel addressed the lack of representation in major luxury fashion and beauty campaigns at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. She also advocated for lucrative contracts for models of color, who are still not paid equally.